Providing Better Care to LGBTQ+ Patients With Multiple Sclerosis: William L. Conte, MD, MS


The head of the MS Center at Methodist Hospitals and assistant professor of neurology at Indiana University discusses the factors that affect the clinical care of LGBTQ+ patients with MS. [WATCH TIME: 4 minutes]

WATCH TIME: 3 minutes

“Right now, here in America, it’s a very unique situation all of a sudden where there are people who are wanting to strip away the rights of certain Americans, and it’s a very scary time, especially for the trans community. So, therefore, having a platform like this, at a national conference, is really important to help educate other neurologists on this topic.”

Stress has often been shown to affect the outcomes of patients with neurologic disease, often contributing to the severity of symptoms and patients’ ability to manage them. Among the LGBTQ+ community, this is no different. Like other minority groups, direct and indirect stressors can often complicate disease for those in the LGBTQ+ community with multiple sclerosis (MS). At the 2023 American Academy of Neurology (AAN) Annual Meeting, April 22-27, in Boston, Massachusetts, a number of sessions were focused on this complexity of the care paradigm and sought to provide education on how these patients can be best treated.

William L. Conte, MD, MS, head of the MS Center at Methodist Hospitals and an assistant professor of neurology at Indiana University, has spent a long time focused on how to improve outcomes for the LGBTQ+ community with MS, which has proven particularly challenging, as the existing literature pool is shallow. In a conversation with NeurologyLive® at AAN, Conte offered his perspective on the challenges faced by these patients and the critical need for neurologists to gain a better understanding their clinical care.

Conte spoke to a number of aspects of the care for these patients, from the factors that can influence clinical outcomes and symptom exacerbation to the use of proper terminology and understanding of identity. He additionally shared insight into the importance of connecting with these individuals on not only their potential struggles with their diagnosis, but with their exploration of their identity, and how those facets can interplay off one another—in particular, citing a 2021 work from Anderson et al1 that has suggested that LGBTQ+ patients with MS can often have difficulties assimilating with both of these identifying groups, creating a challenge for them to acquire the social support they made need.

Click here for more coverage on AAN 2023.

1. Anderson A, Dierkhising J, Rush G, Carleton M, Rosendale A, Bove R. Experiences of sexual and gender minority people living with multiple sclerosis in Northern California: An exploratory study. Mult Scler Relat Dis. 2021;55:103214. doi:10.1016/j.msard.2021.103214
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